The Medieval Silver-Lead Miner: A Preliminary Study

The Medieval Silver-Lead Miner: A Preliminary Study

By Peter Claughton

Bulletin of the Peak District Mines Historical Society, Vol.12:2 (1993)

Abstract: This paper examines the conditions of employment and lifestyle of the miner employed in the Crown silver-lead mines in the late medieval period; and compares them with those found in the lead mining districts of the Pennies and elsewhere.

Introduction: Until the 17th century the independent miner/farmer was to be found throughout the lead mining areas – Mendip, Derbyshire Peak District, Yorkshire, the North Pennines and North Wales – and to a lesser extent in the stannary districts of Devon and Cornwall. Metal mining was essentially an upland activity, carried out in terrain which lent itself to smallholding. The miner took advantage of this to maintain an alternative source of food and income, whereas the farmer on adjacent, more productive, land saw mining as a useful diversification, bringing in cash on which his lord had no call. They were not necessarily full time miners with the worry of continuity of employment, housing and working conditions.

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